Cake Mix Recipe – Revamped

by Jamie on September 12, 2013

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One of the most common questions that pops up in my email inbox and comment section here on MBA has to do with my favorite Doctored Up Cake Mix recipe from 2012.

When the recipe was originally shared, 18.25 ounce boxes were readily available at most supermarkets. They aren’t so attainable anymore. Most companies have now reduced the packaging down to about 15 ounces. They’ve changed the structure of the cake mix to get the same number of cakes and cupcakes with a smaller amount of product.

After responding to countless emails and comments regarding this recipe, I thought it was probably time that I address the change with an all new post. It took some tweaking and lots of cake taste testing (I’m not complaining), and I think finally have just the recipe for you.

I’ve tried it with several cake mix and pudding combinations with stellar results, so grab those mixes and let’s get to baking!

My Favorite Cake Mix Recipes

Mint Chocolate Chip Cupcakes (pictured above)

Coconut Cupcakes

Heath Bar Cupcakes

Oreo Cake

Cadbury Creme Egg Cupcakes

Take 5 Cupcakes

Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

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Cake Mix Recipe – Revamped

September 12th, 2013

Yield: 24 cupcakes


1 (15.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix (see note below)

1 (3.4 ounce) package instant chocolate pudding mix

3/4 cup sour cream

3/4 cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 tablespoon instant espresso granules dissolved in 1/2 cup warm water (see note below)


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tin with paper liners or spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, eggs, vanilla and espresso water mixture. Beat for about two minutes on medium speed until well combined.

3. Using a large cookie scoop, distribute the batter between 24 muffin wells; about 3 tablespoons of batter per well.

4. Bake in preheated oven for 18-22 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when lightly touched. Allow cupcakes to cool inside muffin tins for about 10 minutes.

5. Remove cupcakes from muffin tins and allow to fully cool on a wire rack. Once cupcakes are cool, top with your favorite buttercream recipe.

For Cakes

Bundt Cake Directions: Pour the batter into a well-greased, 12-cup bundt cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 50 to 55 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean. If desired, drizzle the cooled cake with your favorite recipe for chocolate ganache.

For 2 9-inch Cake Layers: Pour batter evenly between 2 greased 9-inch cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Frost cooled cake with your favorite buttercream recipe.


- My favorite Devil's Food Cake is Betty Crocker - Pudding in the mix.
- If you don't have instant espresso granules, you can sub in 1/2 cup warm coffee.
- The espresso in this recipe really just deepens the chocolate flavor, but if you aren't into the whole coffee thing, just use 1/2 cup warm water.
-If you are using a different flavor of cake mix and pudding, simply omit the espresso granules and simply use 1/2 cup warm water.

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar lynn @ the actor's diet September 12, 2013 at 9:33 pm

I was killing time in a bookstore today and spent a good portion of it reading The Cake Mix doctor – have always been obsessed with these kinds of recipes!


avatar E G September 13, 2013 at 1:12 am

Can you take down the original post? I just made the cake using your old post because I didn’t see this one! Then I clicked on the homepage and saw this one :(


avatar E G September 13, 2013 at 1:15 am

ie I didn’t notice the package was 15oz and used the old recipe for 18oz and though I haven’t tried it yet the cake looks much heavier and not moist and light


avatar Jamie September 13, 2013 at 5:09 pm

E G,
Sadly, this is something that’s been happening with all sorts of store bought ingredients, not just cake mix. Even my peanut butter is smaller in volume! The jar is the same size, but they put a dimple in the bottom of the jar to take up space where peanut butter used to go. I hope that the cake still tastes good for you, but if not, please give this updated recipe a try.


avatar Jamie September 13, 2013 at 3:31 pm

The original post has now been update with a link to the new post. Thanks for the suggestion.


avatar Janet Balzer September 13, 2013 at 11:15 am

I absolutely love your pumpkin spice cupcakes made with cake mix and pudding. Should that recipe be adjusted also?


avatar Jamie September 13, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Hi Janet,
I would definitely say so, unless you can find the bigger box size.


avatar Janet Balzer September 13, 2013 at 5:31 pm

your adjusted recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of liquid, and the old one had 2 cups including the pumpkin. I just finished making them and the batter seems very stiff which I don’t remember from the past. Would you mind sending the adjustments you’d make to the pumpkin spice cupcakes? I have served these at the last 4 large parties and they get raves every time.


avatar Jamie October 3, 2013 at 8:03 pm

The recipe is always quite stiff – that’s what I love about it. There is no pumpkin in this recipe, nor the original Cake Mix recipe that I posted. The pumpkin spice recipe continues to perform well (per reader feedback) without any alterations. I hope this helps – thanks so much for stopping by!


avatar Karen September 13, 2013 at 11:15 am

When I’ve made your doctored up cake mix in the past, my cakes always fall when I take them out of the oven. Any suggestions you can offer to help me out here? Thank you!


avatar Jamie September 13, 2013 at 5:07 pm

Karen, most of the time falling cakes are due to a few different possibilities:
- overmixing: too much air in the batter will cause the cake to rise quickly, and then fall because it isn’t fully cooked (which would hold up the structure)
- oven temperature: you should use a separate oven thermometer to make sure your oven isn’t running hot or colder than the temperature you’ve set it to. Many ovens do not run correctly. For example, mine runs about 10 degrees hotter than what I set the temperature setting at. My oven says it’s 350°F, the thermometer inside tells me it’s actually 360°F. A too-hot oven can also cause a cake to rise too fast.
- peeking: as tempting as it is, do your best not to open the oven at all while the cake bakes. This was a hard lesson for me to learn!

I hope that will help.



avatar Connie September 13, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Great improvements to the cake mix cakes. I rarely use them now, but I would just replace the water with whole milk and butter for the oil, and maybe a little extra vanilla. I have made other flavors using white, yellow or vanilla cake mixes, such as banana and pumpkin spice by using pureed fruit/veggies and adding spices. It is a shame some boxed mixes have reduced in weight, how many cupcakes can one make out of a box now?! I’d make 24 perfect cupcakes with 1 boxed mix.


avatar Jamie September 13, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Connie, I love messing around with them too. They’re such a versatile ingredient! The new box mixes still make 24 cupcakes. Somehow they’ve managed to change the structure so that they need less product. I don’t notice a texture change, so not sure how they did it.


avatar Rachel September 13, 2013 at 7:13 pm

Although I consider myself a “scratch” baker, I do use cake mixes when I make cake balls and gooey butter cakes. I became so annoyed by the change in mix sizing that I boycotted Betty Crocker and switched to Duncan Hines as theirs are still the original size (I think).


avatar Katherine September 16, 2013 at 9:47 am

These look scrummy :)


avatar Katerina September 16, 2013 at 5:12 pm

Thanks for the new post and responding to my original! I neglected to mention that even though the cupcakes collapsed in the old recipe the flavor was so far superior to that of a regular boxed cake mix. So I’m hoping this revised one does the trick. Thank you!


avatar kathy September 17, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Thanks for doing this. I have been noodling around with the original one, but it is good to have the update. And congratulations on the baby!


avatar janelle September 19, 2013 at 4:37 pm

I make the old recipe all the time with the 15 oz mix and people rave about it! I’m hesitant to change anything!


avatar Jamie September 22, 2013 at 7:12 pm


Stick with what works for you! Have a fantastic day and thank you so much for following MBA!



avatar cg September 24, 2013 at 1:36 pm

i use plain yogurt instead of sour cream; tastes the same, same texture but i save lots of calories. this is a great recipe. my go to recipe.


avatar Brandi S. September 24, 2013 at 9:50 pm

Hi! I got a 16oz. devil’s food cake mix and so I was wondering if I should use this recipe or the other one for the 18.25oz cake mix? Thanks!


avatar Jamie October 3, 2013 at 6:03 pm

This one will be perfect! Enjoy.


avatar Andrew Smith September 26, 2013 at 10:30 am

I love using cake mix in baking! Thanks for sharing all these awesome. I have made other flavors using white, yellow or vanilla cake mixes, such as banana and pumpkin spice by using pureed fruit/veggies and adding spices.


avatar carla October 3, 2013 at 7:17 pm

question for making this with the cakes…..on your notes you say that the pudding mix is in the betty crocker devils food cake. do you still need to add another pudding mix in addition to what is in the box


avatar Jamie October 3, 2013 at 8:04 pm

Yes, I still add the pudding. I hope this helps. Thanks so much for stopping by!


avatar jana October 3, 2013 at 10:55 pm

i want to make a cake for my son’s b-day. but i want to make it in the shape of a car, so i was planning on baking it in loaf pans. any tips/changes with how long it would take to cook, etc?


avatar Jamie October 5, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Love the car idea! I have honestly never made this cake in a loaf pan, but I would guess it would take between 50-60 minutes. I would definitely recommend a trial run before your son’s birthday. I hope this helped a little. Have a great weekend.


avatar Anitha October 8, 2013 at 7:40 pm

I have tried this recipe today, they came out very moist and just melted in mouth. These are the best cupcakes that I have had and baked so far :). Thank you so much for the wonderful recipe.


avatar Jamie October 8, 2013 at 7:52 pm

Awesome! I am so happy to hear you enjoyed the recipe – thanks so much for reporting back. Have a great night!


avatar Judy October 19, 2013 at 8:48 pm

Jamie I am confused about the pumpkin spice cupcakes. I’d like to make them and wonder how to doctor the spice cake mix. I’m new to your site and just love it!


avatar Jamie January 10, 2014 at 10:12 pm

Judy, the recipe for pumpkin spice cupcakes is here: You doctor it up by adding pudding mix and additional spices.
- Jamie


avatar amanda November 12, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Why did you decide to leave out the andes baking chips on the revamped recipe?


avatar martha November 28, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Hi, I havent’t found on my supermarket the devil’s food cake mix. Instead of that, I found a chocolate cake mix from Duncan Hines. Can I substitute the cake mix for this one? Greetings from Dominican Republic :)


avatar Jamie January 10, 2014 at 5:06 pm

Martha, that should work fine.
- Jamie


avatar Kyra January 17, 2014 at 9:57 am

Okay, I have a question! So if I use a cake mix with pudding in the mix, do I still need to add more pudding? Please let me know!

Thanks :)


avatar Jamie January 17, 2014 at 8:10 pm

Yes, you will still add the dry pudding mix. Thanks for stopping by.


avatar Jenn January 22, 2014 at 7:32 pm

Can this be done with vanilla cake mix and vanilla pudding or would the ratios be different??


avatar Jamie February 15, 2014 at 12:20 pm

It sure can! It works beautifully with many different variations.


avatar katherine January 22, 2014 at 8:21 pm

Thank you! I could not find an 18.25oz box of cake but love the older recipe. You saved me when i promised my boss a cake for his birthday and got home only to find 15.25oz cake box!!


avatar Jamie January 24, 2014 at 2:43 pm


You are so welcome! Have a great day and thank you for following MBA!



avatar Angelina February 2, 2014 at 1:53 am

Hi there Jamie,
I was wondering if there was some kind of substitute for the pudding mix? I live in Taiwan and I swear that I cannot find anything like that here! I’m going bonkers, what can I do? Thanks so much, I love your blog! xo


avatar Jamie February 11, 2014 at 8:24 pm

Angelina, I’m sorry, but I don’t know of anything that could replace the pudding mix here.
- Jamie


avatar Bea February 9, 2014 at 7:40 pm

How do you doctor up a yellow cake mix? I love your blog and this recipe!!


avatar Jamie February 11, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Bea – simply use vanilla pudding where I’ve used chocolate. That should be about the only change.
- Jamie


avatar Stacie March 26, 2014 at 4:23 pm

Hi Jamie,
I didn’t see the adjusted recipe until I’d already made the cupcakes. One day I’ll learn to read through *everything* first before I start baking LOL. Fortunately for me, even with the old measurements & the smaller box mix, my cupcakes still turned out fantabulous!! Thanks again for yet another awesome recipe!



avatar Jennifer March 27, 2014 at 10:10 am

Hi Jamie! Thanks for all the great recipes! These cupcakes come out perfect every time. I have a question: If I make this recipe with red velvet cake mix, I use a box of chocolate pudding, right? Or is there another pudding flavor you would suggest?

Thanks in advance!


avatar Jamie April 9, 2014 at 4:02 pm


For red velvet cake I would probably use chocolate pudding mix since red velvet has a little cocoa in it, but I think that vanilla would also work! Thanks so much for stopping in and please come back to let us know your experience with the recipe! Have a great day!



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